Wednesday, July 2, 2008

To Mac or Not to Mac?

Oh, my friends, it’s that time. I need a new computer. Mine is four years old and has so many bugs that I’m tempted to call the Ortho man instead of the Geek Squad. I no longer have the use of spell check on emails (which is a HUGE drag even if it has improved my spelling). Whenever I open an Adobe document my computer freezes or totally crashes and I can’t load any games onto it anymore (which is good for writing, bad for mental health). The memory space remaining is so small that it can hold a novella, but not a novel.

As we are getting a new roof in two weeks, I certainly hadn’t budgeted for a new computer. In fact, we’re having the roof in lieu of a vacation (can’t afford both) so I’m already feeling a bit sour. Still, the idea of a shiny new iMac is very appealing, but I haven’t owned an Apple since college and am a little nervous.

Sure, I love the commercials. I love the small size of the hard drive. I love the slick screen. But am I smart enough, hip enough, or able to deal with change in the manner that will be required for me to “defect” from the world of Microsoft to the land of juicy apples? And what about the new operating system - I'm finishing a book this week and editing another, so I could start a fresh book on the Mac, but will it be so different it will take days of precious writing time just to figure out iWorks.

Please lend me your wisdom, oh venerable Mac users out there. I’m going this weekend to one store or the other. Should I go to the Apple store? Should I? What do you love about your iMac, iPro, iWhatever! I value your comments! iHelp!


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I can't wait to read the postings on this, since I'll also need a new computer in the next few months. For me it's in lieu of a new flat screen TV. I'm wary of PCs with Vista on them as many of my friends have had horrible experiences, and Vista won't interface with my older than dirt but perfectly fine printer.

Mark Terry said...

Okay, your lucky day. Early in the year my PC died. I got totally fed up with PCs that lasted 3 years. I bought a Mac. In fact, I bought a 24-inch iMac, which has the all-in-one screen design. It's awesome.

Is it totally bug free? Well, no, it's a computer. It has the occasional hiccups, just like PCs running any version of Windows does.

Now, I bought iWorks, which is the Mac version of Microsoft Office, but the transition between MS Windows files, both Excel and Word, have not been as easy as I hoped, so I invested in Office for Mac, which is fine.

Pluses, you don't need to run antivirus or antispyware. You can, but Mac user after Mac user has told me it's not necessary and so far it seems to be working. I'm not getting pop-up ads, etc.

So, when my son needed a computer, we bought him a MacBook, the 13-inch model, and we already had an extra 20 inch monitor from my previous computer, so he's all set. He loves it. It's got a lot of neat stuff built into the operation system (Leopard OS-X, which rocks), like Garage Band, iPhoto, iCamera, iMovie.

So when I needed a laptop for travel, I bought a 15-inch MacBook, which is, well, awesome. Pretty much the same power as my son's 13-inch, but I liked the slightly bigger keyboard and screen.

So far I'm quite sold on Macs. It'll take you about an hour to get the hang of OS-X, if that, and if you invest in Office for Mac, there won't be any transition problems, because, whether we like it or not, it's still pretty much a Microsoft world, although I'm so impressed by Mac so far I'm hard-pressed to figure out why.

Mark Terry said...

Oh, and if you've never shopped at an Apple Store, you're in for a treat. Make an appointment for a "personal shopper" through their website. They'll take care of you.

Terri Thayer said...

Love, love, love the Mac. I bought a laptop a few years ago when, on my PC Word expectedly quit on me. For the third time in one morning.

I bought the Mac version of the Office, and have had no difficulty. The terminology is different and buttons are in the wrong place, but you get used to it. Get the Missing Manual, Switching to Mac and all your questions will be answered.

When my mother was buying her first computer a few years ago (at age 78), we talked her into a Mac. The problem was all of her kids were PC users and couldn't help her figure out stuff. So she learned on her own. It wasn't difficult.

I'm just waiting for my PC to die (and based on the number of fatal errors it claims, it shouldn't be long) to buy a desktop Mac.

Beware going into the Mac store. You will be sold!

Mark Combes said...


Perfect timing! I too am looking to dump my dinosaur PC and make the move to Mac. So never mind me as I eavesdrop on your conversation...

jbstanley said...

Well, I've now priced everything out and I need to write 400 more books to buy the iMac, Office for Mac (per Mark's suggestion), Pro Care, one-to-one, the service program and I think I'm going to go for it!

BTW - Sue et all. is Apple's cyber storage program. For $60/year everything you want to be backed up on your computer is sent to their storage every day. No worries about losing books - no back-up drive, no loose CDS. Man, I love that!

Mark Terry said...

Mac's aren't cheap, but I'm hoping that they'll last longer than 3 or 4 years. I keep talking to Mac users who've happily used their computer for 7, 8 or 9 years and only trade them in to upgrade, versus, you know, wanting to drive over them with your car because they won't run any more.

I fussed and fussed and spent money to get my last PC to work, reloaded Windows, had someone else fix the drivers and still it eventually wouldn't run. I also wasn't eager to delve into Vista.

One thing's for sure, their actual physical design is beautiful.

If you had a spare monitor, you could easily get the 13-inch Macbook and hook in a keyboard and mouse through a doc and run it like a PC, but also have the portability of the laptop. I work on mine full-time I didn't want that, instead wrote off the extra expense of the big iMac. The 13-inch Macbook is pretty reasonably priced, about $1100 or so, but yeah, Office for Mac costs a couple hundred bucks--for 1 license. iWorks is cheaper and is just as easy to use as Office, but I haven't quite nailed reformatting for Windows, although there are some pretty cool features as part of OS-X, like being able to automatically make PDFs, and being able to make simple notations and notes onto PDFs. The issue with Word format from iWorks may just be that I already have Word so haven't felt the need to fuss around with Pages that much.

Mark Terry said...

Thank you for getting me off my ass and experimenting.

As a matter of fact, if you use iWork, where you can get a multi-license for a good price, cheaper than Office for Mac, you can save it as a PDF, RTX, or Word doc format. It's not under the Save As function in Pages (the iWorks version of Word), but under Export. But it works.

I've easily opened Word docs with Pages. I've had the occasional trouble opening Excel pages with Numbers, wh/is the iWorks version of Excel.

But apparently it is do-able if you're patient rather than fork over a bunch of money for Office for Mac.

paul lamb said...

I'll NEVER go back to a PC! Macs are infinitely superior, especially for creative people. That whole Windows universe is so unfriendly and complicated compared to the Mac operating system. No nonsense. More stable platform. Less intimidating interface. All around more human. I've had no viruses, and no system failures.

I don't know about iWorks. I bought Word for Mac and am satisfied with that.

If you want your Mac to last a long time, be judicious about the software upgrades you download (mine checks for upgrades every week and notifies me). They can overpower your processor speed, so I only download upgrades for programs I use, not all the peripheral stuff that I don't use.

jbstanley said...

Good advice Paul and Mark, I printed out your comments and brought them to the store with me today. Over $1800 folks, but the iMac is in a box downstairs. Happy Independence from PC Day!!!

(And yes, I may just drive over my old hard drive. No spell check? Are you f^*^^*g kidding?

Felicia Donovan said...

Well, somebody had to be the "Counterpoint."

If you want to use the Mac for personal use, they're fine, but the business standard is still PC's. XP is on its last breath in and Vista is now the only OS you can buy pre-loaded. I've been pretty happy with Vista thus far. Lots of patches, but it's still in its infancy and I expect that.

I have every OS running for some of the forensic stuff I do and still find it easier to use a Windows-based PC because of all of the software and drivers that are available. Mind you, my needs are unique and I'm now venturing more and more into flavors of Linux for testing, but cost-wise, a PC is still cheaper with more add-ons for less money.

The bottomline is that you have to decide what you're comfortable with and go for it. If price isn't a factor, Mac away. If industry standards aren't important, Mac away. I'd be more concerned about the format of the documents you're sending and whether publishers can accept them since many other issues are transparent.

I run a pretty tight ship in terms of what I allow to get on my system and have never once been hit with a virus or malware on a Windows-based system, but because of the "day" job, I'm also paranoid.

I'll stick with my PC because I can rebuild it readily with spare parts (just upgraded the HD on one of my laptops). I need lots of flexibility on the cheaps and that works for me.

Mark, no anti-virus running? Hmmmm....

Anonymous said...

1. Adding memory is cheaper.
2. DoN'T 'up'grade to Vista. Go back to XP if you already have.
3. If you are like me and have a browser open while you're writing, DO upgrade to Firefox 3.0 [much better memory management - I have something like 50 tabs open quite comfortably now]
4. Buy a Mac if you have the dough. But don't forget you also need to spring for some new software, too. If you do go to Mac, talk to the salesperson about putting the Windows O/S on as well so you can install your Windows software instead of buying new.
5. If you buy a Mac, allow a bit of time to coming up to speed [learning curve]

That is all. :-)

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I spoke to our IT guy at work yesterday. He said that it's really a personal preference between Macs and PCs and said he owns both, but still prefers his PC.

He did tell me, though, that if I buy a new PC NOT to buy one with Vista, if possible. He suggested I go somewhere where I can have one built with XP. He also said he's heard that Microsoft is coming out with a new version of XP due to the disaster of Vista. One of my friends went to PC Club and had her computer built specifically for her personal needs instead of out of the box and loves it. She did not get Vista.

Felicia Donovan said...

We still do not run Vista at the PD because of compatability issues with certain programs, but that may have to change soon - if we can get machines that have enough horsepower to run it. In the meantime, we either order custom systems with XP SP2 (not 3 which I'm still testing) or manually unload Vista and reinstall XP.

Microsoft is at a bit of a crossroads right now and may very well keep new flavors of Vista coming our way, but it's still a Microsoft world by and large, like it or not.

It is all a matter of personal choice and economy when all is said and done.

There is no magic operating system, browser or program that is a substitute for practicing safe computing - including making sure the operating system, anti-virus and anti-spyware are all up-to-date.

Mark Terry said...

Just a note: the Leopard OS-X operating system that comes with new Macs also now includes Bootcamp, which allows the Mac to run Windows, if you wanted to actually install the Windows OS on your Mac. That way you could, if you wanted to, also run any Microsoft product on your Mac.

Keith Raffel said...

JB, an article in today's Journal on switching to a Mac. See

Lynn Sholes said...

I have both a PC and a Mac and I LOVE my Mac. The only reason I have a PC is because much of the world operates on Windows and the software is usually cheaper. I can tell you that it is my last PC! Mac's are intuitive and easy to learn. Once you go Mac, you'll never go back. Besides, Stephen King writes on a Mac!

Lynn Sholes said...

Oh, I forgot to say Vista is a problem. Many of my old programs don't work on Vista. I bought the PC last August and it has crashed 3 times. Lucky I paid for Dell on site, next day service.
Go ahead and get Office for Mac and you won't need to learn anything new. You'll love your Mac. Mac users have intimate relationships with their computers!

Lynn Sholes said...
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